Gunung Tujuh- the highest caldera lake in Indonesia- info, trekking, tips

Gunung Tujuh- the highest caldera lake in Indonesia- info, trekking, tips

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Indonesia is known for its volcanoes. More than a hundred volcanoes are scattered on various islands. Some of them are active, some are sleeping. Some are tall, and some are low. One of them had slept long ago after forming a caldera, today filled with one of the most beautiful lakes in Southeast Asia. This is Lake Gunung Tujuh, a place where you can feel like finding yourself in prehistoric times. And this is a guide to Lake Gunung Tujuh, with basic info, and how to get there.

Lake Gunung Tujuh- a wild rainforest paradise
Lake Gunung Tujuh- a wild rainforest paradise

Basic facts about Lake Gunung Tujuh

Lake Gunung Tujuh is located in the western part of Sumatra, on the border between the provinces of West Sumatra and Jambi. Here is the long Barisan Mountains- the mountain chain that stretches along the whole length of Sumatra. The lake is located at 2005 m altitude, and it is about 4,5 km long.

The name of the lake means “Seven Mountains”. It comes from seven mountain peaks that surround the lake, rising on the edge of the caldera. The highest of them is Mount Gunung Hulu Jujuhan (2732 m). The other six are Gunung Hulu Kemarau (2397 m), Gunung Hulu Tebo Kanan (2524 m), Gunung Hulu Sangir (2270 m), Gunung Mandurai Basi (2481 m), Gunung Tarpanggang (2460 m), and Gunung Tujuh (2604 m).

Lake Gunung Tujuh has an outlet- a raging stream with a waterfall that descends steeply to the foot of the mountain and joins the Batang Sangir River at the village of Lubuk Pauh. The lake is surrounded by lush mountain rainforest that reflects on its waters, creating stunning landscapes and views.

Today, Lake Gunung Tujuh is included in the Kerinci-Seblat Nationa Park– one of the largest national parks in Indonesia, and the largest in Sumatra, spread into three provinces- West Sumatra, Bengkulu, and Jambi.

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Lake Gunung Tujuh with Mount Kerinci in the background
Lake Gunung Tujuh with Mount Kerinci in the background

Gunung Tujuh Trek

All of the above makes Lake Gunung Tujuh an attractive destination for travelers and adventurers. Today, there is a popular trail that leads to the lake shores. It ascends from 1500 to 2122 m and descends steeply to the coast.

Normally, it can be hiked for about 3 hours. The trail is steep and muddy, with many tree roots creating natural “stairs”. This makes it a bit difficult, but if you climb the nearby Mount Kerinci, you will find the trail to Gunung Tujuh much easier.

Hiking the trail to Lake Gunung Tujuh in detail

The trail starts from the entrance of Kerinci-Seblat NP (about 1405 m altitude). For the first 1,5 km, you ascend to 1515 m on a dirt road that gradually penetrates the mountain, following the lower section of the Gunung Tujuh stream valley. There is a sign at the end of the dirt road, and some stalls selling souvenirs and food.

The trailhead
The trailhead

From the entrance to Pos 1

From this point, the real hike begins. First, you start walking on a paved trail, but soon the pavement ends and it turns into a steep muddy path penetrating deep into the rainforest. After a 30-40 min hike, you reach Pos 1 (at 1738 m)- a small place for relaxation, with an information sign.

From Pos 1 to Pos 2

This section is about 40-50 min long. Pos 2 is another small spot with a basic shelter and another informational sign, located at about 1897 m. The trail is still the same, not too difficult, with a moderate slope.

From Pos 2 to Pos 3

This section is the longest- more than an hour ascending. The most difficult part of the trail is at the end, just below Pos 3, where you may need to use your hands to catch some tree roots and branches. Finally, the slope suddenly finishes. Pos 3 is on the top, at 2120 m. This is the edge of the lake caldera. But due to the thick rainforest, there are no panoramic views, you can’t see anything but the surrounding jungle.

From Pos 3 to the lake shore

This is a 20-minute steep descent from the top- the edge of the caldera. Due to its steepness, they have installed a wooden fence for help. You will most probably need to catch the fence or the nearby trees and roots. The trail descends through the jungle, and only at the last 100 m to the shore does the jungle open and you can see the first breathtaking view of Lake Gunung Tujuh.

First view of the lake
First view of the lake

The lake shore and the campsite

Once you reach the lake shore, you will see another small shelter on the right. But there is no trail in this direction. Instead, you have to proceed to the left. Here is the bridge over the outlet stream of Gunung Tujuh. The trail crosses the bridge and proceeds further, following the shore- it is muddy, jumping and branching here and there about 500 m.

Here is the campsite. It is not compact but scattered on some flat spots along the trail and the shore where people install their tents. Some small unclear trail branches ascend to the forest and disappear, others proceed further along the shore, but in general, this is the end of the trail.

The outlet stream of Gunung Tujuh flows out under the bridge and jumps down into a waterfall. But this waterfall is inaccessible. There is no established trail to it, and you can’t see it. Don’t try to search for a view of it from the jungle, it is too dangerous- the slope becomes almost vertical, and some people have died here in an attempt to reach the waterfall!

The lake shore and the campsite
The lake shore and the campsite

Spending the night at the campsite

If you don’t have enough time, you can visit Lake Gunung Tujuh in one day- you can start hiking in the morning, reach the lake at noon, have lunch there, enjoy 1-2 hours, and descend back to the civilization in the afternoon.

But I would recommend spending a night here. Lake Gunung Tujuh is a place of perfect tranquility “at the end of the world” (yes, there are more people sometimes who go there, make a campfire, play guitars, and arrange a party, which can disturb this tranquility, but you can still find a calmer spot)! I personally would find it a bit useless to visit it and miss the experience of enjoying this beauty for a longer time!

Around 18:00, after sunset, the whole jungle fills with the noise of cicadas, at least for 20 min. In the morning, you can usually hear the voice of the Sumatran gibbons (Siamangs), as well as various birds and other jungle sounds.

Camping at the lake shore
Camping at the lake shore

Further along the lake

This is for more serious adventurers. There is a spot on the other side of the Lake Gunung Tujuh, called Pasir Putih (in English- “white sand”, although there is no white sand here). The easiest way to reach it is by boat, and there are usually one or two dugout boats waiting at the campsite. Once you get to Pasir Putih, you can hike on a small overgrown path to a small pass between Mt Gunung Tujuh and Mt Hulu Jujuhan.

This area is much wilder, rarely visited, with leeches and mosquitos near the lake shore, but also with rich wildlife. Here you can spot Sumatran tapir and other rare animals if you are lucky.

You can also reach Pasir Putih on foot through the jungle, but it is much more difficult, there are almost no visible trails to this spot.

Can you climb Mt Hulu Jujuhan (the highest peak around the lake)? It is a serious challenge because it is very steep. Only a few people have ever reached the top!

Mount Gunung Jujuhan's reflections in the morning
Mount Hulu Jujuhan’s reflections in the morning

Boat ride on the Lake Gunung Tujuh

The two dugout boats usually wait for tourists at the bridge and the campsite. Tourists can enjoy a short boat ride to a certain point in the lake, where they can see the magnificent Mount Kerinci, rising over the crack on the caldera rim (and over the bridge) where the stream of Gunung Tujuh flows out.

For this boat ride, I paid 200,000 IDR, being only one passenger and being a foreigner. But for more people, the price is negotiable.

The boatmen can also take you to a more distant spot on the shore to camp if you want to be more separated from the crowd around the bridge. And finally, as mentioned above, they can take you to Pasir Putih for an adventurous hike in the jungle.

Boat ride on the lake
Boat ride on the lake

How to travel to Lake Gunung Tujuh

Here is the important part. First, you have to decide, will you travel solo, or will join a tour with a guide? Honestly, this hike is quite easy, so you don’t need a guide. But anyway, if you

Pros and cons of joining a tour


  • They can arrange your transport from wherever you come- Padang, Sungai Penuh (Jambi), Bengkulu, or another place, you don’t need to worry about that.
  • You have porters who would help you with your luggage- it can definitely make the hike easier.
  • It is safer- you have much better protection from injury, illness, getting lost, etc.
  • It can be fun- you can meet new friends and have a fun time together.


  • If you are a foreigner, it can be expensive.
  • You are not as free and flexible as you would be if you hike solo- after all, you should follow the group unless you pay about a million IDR for a personal guide.
  • It is useless- the trail is very clear, and you can’t get lost, even in the dark. In addition, the whole trail is crowded- you will definitely not be alone.
Relaxation at Pos 1- usually full of hikers
Relaxation at Pos 1- usually full of hikers

If you anyway prefer joining a tour, click on the button below:

Join a tour to Gunung Tujuh!

Independent solo hiking of the Lake Gunung Tujuh

That’s what I did. I came from Padang and found a hotel in Kersik Tuo as my “base camp” not only for Gunung Tujuh but also for the Mount Kerinci trek.

Transportation from Padang

Your goal is the village of Kersik Tuo. There are no buses from Padang to Kersik Tuo, but there is a regular van (minibus) travel service from Padang to Sungai Penuh, and they can drop you in Kersik Tuo. Several companies offer this service- PT AYU Transportation, Safa Marwa, SKW, and more. Their offices (and starting points) can be found HERE. I traveled by PT AYU, and I can say that it is very convenient.

You have two options: You can go directly to their office, buy a ticket, and depart from there. When the minibus departs, first it roams around Padang, picking up people or luggage from various spots- for about 1-2 hours, until finally it leaves the city.

So, the second option is to call them in advance and be one of those who they pick on the way- however, keep in mind that they most probably don’t know English, so you have to ask someone to help you make a phone call and arrange it for you. In both cases, you better call them in advance to ask for the departure time, or just go there earlier!

AYU Transportation, Padang
AYU Transportation, Padang

Transportation price and travel time

The price for the transport from Padang to Kersik Tuo is 150,000 IDR. Usually, all of them depart between 18:00 and 19:00 (some of them in the morning, but you have to check it in advance- it is not every day). The travel from Padang to Kersik Tuo is between 6 and 8 hours long (they usually stop in the middle for a short rest), and you can expect crazy driving, surpassing everything on the way.

My plan was to complete two treks- Mount Kerinci and Gunung Tujuh. I arrived in Kersik Tuo around 2:45 in the morning- the driver dropped me exactly in front of the hotel that I had booked, it was a roadside hotel, and I had a few hours for a shower and sleep before starting my trek to Mount Kerinci. I descended from Kerinci on the next day, and on the third day went to Gunung Tujuh, from the same hotel.

When you complete your journey in this area, you can easily use the same type of transportation- to Padang ot other point. The best way is to ask the reception in your hotel to help you call the transportation company and arrange the time when they will come to pick you up. 

Minibus from Padang to Kersik Tuo
Minibus from Padang to Kersik Tuo

Kersik Tuo

Kersik Tuo is a big village (or a small town), located on the southern side of Mount Kerinci, and west of Gunung Tujuh. It gradually gets popular among travelers since it is the main starting point for several treks- to Mount Kerinci, Lake Tujuh Gunung, the offbeat Ladeh Panjang, some beautiful riverside spots like Rawa Bento, and more.

In fact, Kersik Tuo and its smaller “satellite” villages are mostly established on both sides of the main road between Padang and Sungai Penuh. Some of these villages are even closer to the starting point of the trail.

From Kersik Tuo to the starting point

Keep in mind that once you arrive in Kersik Tuo, there is no “public transport” to the starting point of Gunung Tujuh, as well as to the starting points of the other treks in the area. No buses, no taxis, and no ojeks (motorcycle taxis). And it can be a problem if you are a solo hiker.

In my case, the owner of the hotel personally took me by his scooter to the entrance (so I guess the staff of your hotel would help you too).
Of course, those who travel organized, don’t have to think about this.

The entrance station of Gunung Tujuh
The entrance station of Gunung Tujuh

Entrance and ticket

Once you arrive at the entrance station, you have to buy a ticket. For foreigners, the price can vary between 310,000 IDR to 450,000 IDR for two days and one night, depending on whether it is a holiday or not. You must present your passport.

Don’t try to hike illegally! Yes, technically, you can do it, you can skip the entrance station, but first, it is always good to be legal. Second, rangers also hike along the trail, they have the right to check your ticket, and if you can’t show it, you will be in trouble. It is always not advisable to be illegal in a foreign country!

Ojek from the entrance station to the trailhead

As mentioned above, there is a 1,5 km dirt road from the entrance station to the trailhead. And there are always ojeks waiting for tourists to provide transport between these two spots- it can save you about a 15-20 min walk. Normally, they do it for 10,000 IDR.

When you descend from the mountain and complete the trek, you would like to find transport back to your hotel. You can talk with the ojek drivers about that. I paid 100,000 IDR for an ojek from the trailhead (not the entrance station) directly to my hotel, for a distance of about 9 km.

Ojeks at the entrance waiting for tourists
Ojeks at the entrance waiting for tourists


Keeping this in mind, plan your accommodation wisely. If you plan only a Gunung Tujuh, you better find a place that is enough close to the entrance station. The nearest village to the entrance is Pelompek. Thus, even if you can’t arrange an ojek, you can easily just walk.

There are several homestays in Pelompek, and the best of them are Kerinci View Homestay and Danau Gunung Tujuh Homestay. You can book the first one directly from their website, but for the second one, you can only call on the phone. Or just go without advanced booking.

But if you also plan a trek to Mount Kerinci, probably it would be better to find a place in the middle between the starting points of the two treks. That’s what I did, so I found MT Syariah Kerinci Homestay, located about 7 km from the entrance to Mount Kerinci, and 7,5 km from the entrance of Gunung Tujuh (the total distance between the two entrances is 15,5 km, and I was just in the middle). Another proper place, just 50 m from my hotel is the Zahza Hotel.

MT Syariyah Kerinci Homestay
MT Syariyah Kerinci Homestay

Packing list- what to bring for the trek

It is important to be prepared well for the trek. While you hike or relax during the day, you can feel warm. But it is cool at night, the temperature can drop to 10°C Also, the weather is changeable- it is one of the wettest areas in Indonesia. It can be a nice sunny morning, but it can be rainy in the afternoon.

So, what to bring for your Gunung Tujuh trek?

  • Footwear. Be prepared for mud. Summer hiking shoes should be ok, but don’t hope to keep them clean.
  • Clothes. Wear long pants, shirts, a polar or a sweater. This is the basic. Then, bring your jacket. You will most probably need it for the cool night.
  • Waterproof. Prepare for rain. But don’t bring a poncho-type raincoat, it is very difficult to climb on the steep muddy trail with this! Instead, bring a raincoat with sleeves and legs, and cover your backpack too.
  • Camping gear. Your tent should be waterproof too. Then, just prepare a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad.
  • Trekking poles. Bring them too. They can be very useful, unless in the places where you have to catch trees and roots with your hands.
  • Light. Bring your headlamp, even if you plan only a one-day hike to Gunung Tujuh, just in case. And if you plan two or three days, you will need it for the night in the tent, or some night walk in the jungle.
  • Electric devices. People in the past didn’t have mobiles, but today your mobile with a power bank and a cable can be very helpful- you can use it for GPS, for alternative light, and of course- for fantastic photos all along the trek. However, keep in mind that there is no mobile signal at the lake.
  • Food. Plan your food wisely, especially if you plan a two or three-day trek. I had food for lunch and dinner on the first day, and for breakfast and lunch on the second day. It would be better to buy a gas canister, so you can cook noodles, soup, or something else. But even if you don’t bring it, you can buy some chicken with rice from the small fast food in Kersik Tuo.
View of Lake Gunung Tujuh from Mount Kerinci
View of Lake Gunung Tujuh from Mount Kerinci

I descended in the afternoon on the second day, back to my hotel, and on the next day returned to Padang. Thus, I completed the two best treks in this area, around Kersik Tuo- Mount Kerinci and Gunung Tujuh. And I would certainly advise you to plan at least two treks since you come from afar.

This is the Lake Gunung Tujuh. A fantastic gem in the mountainous tropical rainforest, with unforgettable landscapes and tranquility. Hiking Gunung Tujuh and spending a night there is one of the best experiences in a journey around West Sumatra.

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This is an essential guide to Lake Gunung Tujuh, the highest caldera lake in Indonesia, with basic info, trek description, and useful tips.

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